Tag Archives: love

Purpose

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Frustrating, hard to watch, and gets old really fast. ::rolls up sleeves, spreads more love and beauty::

True story. I don’t talk about it much, but I have had a few deeply spiritual experiences, and this one took place 4th of July weekend, 1997. I remember the date, because when I pulled into my parents’ driveway in the U-Haul, one of the neighbors came over and joked that he thought this was supposed to be Independence Day. Ha Ha. I got in a day late, because the truck blew an alternator and I had to spend an extra night in Ohio. It was a magical vision quest that helped fine tune the compass of my life. And also helped me understand the opposition.

And I keep trying to make my contribution to the cause, and the haters keep stymieing the results.

Maybe the opposite of love isn’t always hate. Maybe often it’s just a total absence of concern for other humans. I’m not saying that there’s no hate—the guys in panel 4 are haters and proud of it—but they’re still a minority. The ability to not care about things that don’t personally affect you, that’s a common skill that happens to enable hate by default. Maybe if just a few more people switched over to the “spreading love and beauty” camp, that might be all it takes to flip the balance back toward the minority not deliberately ruining everything for the rest of us.

All about Me

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You might think it’s about you. But it’s not. It’s about me.

Radical self care. For me it tends to take the shape of being incredibly selfish. Sometimes it seems like something I don’t get to do very often, but on the other hand, drawing webcomics is incredibly selfish in many ways. It’s absolutely all about me. My art has always been all about me. The difference is, it used to be novels that a half dozen people read, and now it’s comics that 100s or 1000s of people read. But they’re still about me, my life, my experience, what I’m going through. Even if they seem political or altruistic, even when I do something like the Patricia Jabbeh Wesley comic the other day, or all those Bonnie Jo Campbell comics, I’m still in it. It’s still about me.

My brother told me yesterday that my comics were getting very dark. I say the world is getting dark. The comics just reflect my perception of it. But actually, I’ve been taking great care of myself since the election.

Not, of course, as good as my kitty, Lupin (pictured above). We could all take lessons on radical self care from cats.

You’ve Made It! Now Where Do You Go?

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Crippling hand pain is a side effect of pretty much everything good, and a lot of bad things too.

Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, maybe my outrage meter needs recalibration, or maybe nothing outstandingly egregious happened in Washington today. Nothing struck me politically, and I didn’t even start thinking about this comic until midnight, so if it’s a little light, blame my running-on-fumes brain.

When I took up ukulele, I usually couldn’t hear how out of tune it was. I asked some musicians if it was possible for someone with little musical talent to develop and ear for that sort of thing and they assured me it was. Now I can tell, more or less, if it’s not right, but I can’t tell you if it’s flat or sharp, and I can only tune it with an interactive device that visually tells me whether I’m flat or sharp. And even then I’m not great at it. But I love playing it.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that I realize, now, that never in my life has it even been a particular desire of mine to be successful. All I ever wanted was to spend my days immersed in the arts. Society and my family told me that it was only important to be successful, and after I achieved success then I could do the things I actually wanted to do. Just doing art without worrying about success or whether the world would agree that that’s what I should be doing with my time seems like a real crime sometimes. But now that I’ve achieved a modicum of success I guess it’s all right?

Not that the world needs more successful people. But it probably needs more happy people.

To Russia, with Love

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I knew I should have sent flowers. Or chocolates? Oh! Caviar! He probably loves caviar.

Meanwhile, in Bizarro America, Congress remains blissfully unaware of the increasingly documented facts of Russian interference with the presidential election, or else, they’re well aware of it and, in Bizarro America, conspiring with Russia is no longer considered treason so there’s no reason to investigate or act on any of these details. In either case, it’s just one more indignity that the portion of American people who enjoy the full use of their brains must attempt to assimilate as they ponder the massive tapestry of lies, incompetence, and behavior unbecoming the federal government of a nation that once wore the label of “democracy” with pride. With each passing day, it becomes more difficult to accept the legitimacy of an administration whose sole aims seem to dismantling the republic and appropriating its resources for their own gain. With each passing day, the question of whether America will have any qualities in common with an actual democracy in four years becomes more urgent.

In case you never hang out with Russian people, “Dima” is a friendly diminutive for the name Vladimir. Perhaps Putin’s mother called him Dima when he was a little baby dictator. Maybe that’s what bears call him when they snuggle up through the long Russian winter.

I hate drawing the president with his beady little eyes, lumpy face, and ridiculous hair, but I kind of like blushing, smiling Donald in the last panel. He looks kind of happy and at peace at last, contemplating his love. Poor Melania. I bet he never smiles like that at her.

Watermelon Quilt Mandala

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It reminds me of pie. But maybe that’s just because it’s pie season. 

Here’s a jagged pink Monday mandala, straight out of that time that Laura Ingalls Wilder ate those funny mushrooms after Pa told her not to. Little House on the Psychedelic Plain.

Saturday was my birthday, and I tried to spend it being true to myself, even I had to do it in the state of Kansas, which would not have been my first choice.

What follows is a more intense political-ish essay that I also ran on Facebook:

I want to thank everybody who wished me well on my birthday. It’s my “life, the universe, and everything” year (42), and the day went as well as could be expected. It’s hard to celebrate when your prevailing emotion for the last 2 weeks has been “terrified,” and, like a lot of people, I’ve had to check out from social media a bit. Even though 97% of the friends in my feed have political values more or less in line with my own, it’s still scary. Maybe it’s more scary that way I’m not scared so much for myself, even if I am a genderqueer, pansexual, Jewish/animist/Buddhist/pantheist, because I can pass under people’s radar pretty well most of the time or get a pass as an artist even if I ping as a subversive (that’s class privilege). But I’m terrified of a world where all people are not created equal, and I’m nauseated over what’s certain to be an ongoing assault against the first amendment. I don’t know how to be an American under an administration that’s vocally opposed to the values that, to me, are most representative of America.

It makes me happy to know how many people are mobilizing, how strong the resistance is going to be. We’ll need that power to withstand the assault against human rights that has already commenced. But at the same time, more than ever, I believe that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and that only the ability to build bridges and will save us in the long run. We can’t tolerate bigotry, but we can’t pretend that bigots are not American too. Yes, racists, yes, misogynists, yes homophobes/transphobes. They live here. They aren’t going to go away. They probably aren’t going to change. But they are human beings. They are Americans. I hope some of them can be won over with love. I hope that things are not as bleak as they seem, and I hope that this country finds its way back to the 21st century. Those of us who have gotten this far are NOT GOING BACK. Obviously. You can’t kill an idea. You definitely cannot kill 100s of years of ideas.

I support everyone working to ensure that it doesn’t happen, to mitigate damage. Personally, I’m not very good at in-the-street activism. Just being near a crowd of angry people is kind of debilitating to me, even if I share their anger, but I know it’s an effective tactic, and more effective the bigger it gets.

After 9/11, like a lot of people, I kind of went a little insane with grief and fear, but after a few days, I remembered that I am a fantasist, and that I’m fortunate to be one of those people whose purpose in life has always been clear, and has only become more clarified with the passage of time. I create things–art and food primarily–and that’s basically all I know how to do. And that’s all I can do. And that’s what I will do. And I hope that, in doing so, I remain true to my purpose, and my values, and to the people doing what I cannot. But I can’t abandon a doctrine of love. As a pantheist, I can’t draw a line between myself and the rest of the world. I refuse to answer hatred with hatred. I will stand up for the oppressed and I will oppose oppression, but I will not hate.

Grayscale Mandala

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I recognize that some of that’s drab olive green but that doesn’t make a very good title.

If someone were to grade me on my commitment to my art for this weekend, I would flunk, but if the grade were for running around like a crazy person and accomplishing half of everything that requires doing: A+. The Man and I are gearing up for a couple big things plus I had to celebrate my upcoming birthday with all the people I won’t be able to hang out with on my actual birthday.

Saturday, The Fox and Ms. Kitty took me out to one of our favorite restaurants, Feast, which is what we did, and then to a Japanese garden where I fed koi. And pet them. Because that is a thing dragons enjoy. And then there was a big party that night, and then we went to another big party Sunday night. And now most of my tasks remain undone.

It’s important to get to gatherings like these, though, because they remind me that there are good, caring, compassionate people in the world, that there are whole communities of Americans who believe in a doctrine of love and will never support hatred, who will actually speak out and take action and defend others.

The Fruit of the Pawpaw Tree

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I spent way too much time trying to make the baby donkey look cuter and fluffier.

I read that the pawpaw is the only tropical fruit native to Michigan. I don’t really understand how, because I lived in Michigan for 4 years and there is absolutely nothing tropical about it. From the beginning of September until the end of May, it’s cold, and I always assumed that tropical fruits came from the tropics. Maybe they mean that it’s the only tropical fruit that can survive living in Michigan. I could not thrive in that weather, so I moved to Arizona. I have never eaten a pawpaw, not this kind of pawpaw, anyway. Some people refer to papaya as pawpaw, but it’s a totally different fruit.

“The Fruit of the Pawpaw Tree” is the last story in the book (but the penultimate story of our BJC comic journey) and a lot of people list it as their favorite, because it’s the happiest, most optimistic story in the book. It’s like Susanna in this story redeems all the hurt and broken women in all the other stories. Sometimes life is hard, but sometimes if you’re hard, you get through it OK. Sometimes you close yourself off to certain emotions, but then one little thing gets through your armor, and you realize you don’t have to be closed off to everything, all the time. People totally do find love at 64.